During the cold winter spell placed on Chicago, Stray Kids turn up the heat at the Rosemont Theatre on February 2nd.
The Korean boy group visits eight cities in the United States with SubKulture Entertainment for Stray Kids World Tour ‘District 9: Unlock.’
Fans fill up the venue and excited chatter takes over as everyone talks to each other while waiting for the show to begin. The crowd’s attention switches from each other to the stage as a video starts playing. Once it ends, Lee Know, Han, Felix, Bang Chan, Hyunjin, Seungmin, Changbin and I.N. take their positions on the stage.
Matching the tour’s name, “District 9” is the first song of the night. The high energy remixed version song instantly pulls their fans (Stays) into party mode. “Victory Song” keeps the same vibe going and the floor starts shaking from everyone jumping up and down.
Calming it down a bit but only slightly were the songs “Questions” and “Rock.” Both versions of the group’s light stick move to the beat making the crowd look like twinkling stars in the night sky.
Taking a short detour from their songs Stray Kids give an intense dance performance. Some of the moves were acrobatic as they use each other to jump and tumble around on the stage. The dance lead into their next song “Side Effects” which kept the intensity while adding vocals into the mix.
After greeting Stays as group, each member introduces themselves in their own way. “We’re just getting started” I.N. says before asking fans if they’re ready to party and the amount of excitement following answered his question.
“M.I.A” officially slowed down the pace. All of the guys stood in a line on stage as they sang and did whatever they felt like doing. The time for the first sub-unit performance arrived. Hyunjin, Lee Know and Felix “Wow” show off their sexy side with their dance moves and smooth voices.
Han stands alone on the stage at the start of “Mixtape #4” and slowly the other seven members join him. As each person came to the stage they are accompanied by backup dancers who surround them as they perform.
The darker sound changes as the group switches gears for the songs “Get Cool” and “Awkward Silence.” Both tracks give off a happy and fun vibe that makes listeners feel good. As Stays yelled ‘get cool’ with the group, all that could be seen are thumbs in the air.
After a short video and pre-recorded speech, Stray Kids go into one of their newest song, “Levanter.” Some fans expected the recently released English version, but were pleasantly surprised to hear the lyrics in Korean.
The second sub-unit stage of the night belong to Jeongin, Seungmin and Changbin. Their lighthearted sounding song, “My Universe” lifted up the crowd’s spirits. Immediately following the trio is “3rd Eye.” Folding chairs were brought out and the members used for the dance in various ways giving a fresh sight to see.
Once the chairs were taken backstage the dancing stopped during the ballad version of “I Am You.” Behind them is an image of a cherry blossom tree with petals fluttering in the wind and with all the light sticks slowing moving they blended in and enhanced the visual. Each member poured their hearts out with every lyric and Stays did they same whenever they could. All the voices blending together in perfect harmony.
The last sub-unit song belonged to 3RACHA consisting of members Bang Chan, Changbin and Han. All of them start their rap “We Go” while sitting on a black leather couch and take turns getting up to dance with the backup dancers. The short song, “Road Not Taken” follows as the unit performance ends and brings everyone back together.
One of the most anticipated tracks for the concert belonged to “My Pace.” Excited screams took over during the first few seconds of the song before changing to sing along. The floor once again shook as everyone jumped up and down to the beat.
Changbin doesn’t want the song to end so he gets Stays to sing the ‘nanana’ part a couple more times. Afterwards Bang Chan becomes speechless and claims that the crowd sings better than the group and the fans don’t believe him.
“Everything we prepared is for our Stays” Han admits. “We want to have lots and lots of fun with our Stays.” Felix lists off all the songs they just performed but told the audience not to worry as they have plenty more to go.
Bang Chan gets lots of screams when his turn to talk arrives and he gets embarrassed. The other members edge it on for everyone to keep going and Stays start chanting ‘best leader.’ As fans chant, Bang Chan becomes shy and walks to the back of the stage.
The audience shows how much they care for the ones on stage by yelling ‘we love you’ over and over. Stray Kids were taken by surprise but came back with their own chant saying ‘we love Stays.’ The battle between the two groups continue for a short while before the eight young men run out of breath leaving Stays to emerge victorious.
“Before we move on’ Bang Chan starts, “we’re just going to do a quick check up.” He walks to the edge of the stage and looks at fan’s shoes to see who tide their laces twice. His little stunt hints the song “Double Knot” and Stays jump up and down in excitement from start to finish.
There’s no time to rest as “Boxer” and “Hellevator” came up next on the set list. The heavy dance moves and deep lyrics capture fan’s hearts once again. Following the two songs is another short dance break that leads into the popular song, “MIROH.” If anyone wasn’t already jumping or dancing around these three songs fixed that and not a single person was sitting.
Instead of your typical encore routine of sitting in the dark waiting for the artists to come back Stray Kids decided to be different. The lights go down for a short moment before a video lights up the venue.
The group prepared missions for Stays to do to unlock the encore. Missions one and two were a version of Simon Says where the audience does the motions or sayings on the screen during part of a song. The commands ranged from dabbing, yelling, singing and making a heart.
Stays pass the first two missions with flying colors. With both unlocked only one more remained. The final mission required fans to loudly scream as long as possible. Being loud was child’s play for Chicago and they easily pass.
With the encore unlocked the group returns to the stage. The slower song “Grow Up” had Stays swaying side to side and enjoying the moment. From start to finish everyone had their light sticks moving in sync while being lead by those on stage.
After the song ends, Stray Kids get a surprise from Chicago Stays. Thanks to SubKulture Entertainment, a fan made video showing clips of each member with messages in both English and Korean plays on the big screen. All eight sit down on the stage to watch, some of them wipe away emotion filled tears. The surprise doesn’t end there as Stays sing along to the song, waving their light sticks in sync. The last thing that appears are the words ‘We Will Stay.’
Bang Chan responds to Stay’s message with, “Whenever you guys are feeling alone or feeling a bit isolated, just look to the side and just know that we are always there for you.” He then gets everyone to yell out ‘Stray Kids everywhere around the world’ with all their hearts.
Hyunjin admitted that he’s been watching the audience from backstage and saw everything. “You guys were absolutely cute” he compliments. Lee Know mentions that he’s always wanted to come to Chicago and is happy that he could perform for Stays.
“You guys are perfect. Scream was perfect, energy was lovely and everything was perfect” Han says. He doesn’t forget to bring up the fan’s surprise. “That video gift touched our hearts. I was about to cry.”
Both I.N. and Felix said it was an honor perform in the windy city. The group had free time prior to the concert so the explored Chicago and Felix loved everything. “Even though the weather was cold but for some reason it made me want to keep coming here” the Aussie added.
One of the most popular things to do when visiting Chicago is trying the famous pizza and this group wasn’t skipping it. “First of all, Chicago pizza was awesome” Hyunjin approved. “The taste was really, really super awesome.”
Just like Felix, Seungmin brings up going around the city and talks about the beautiful view. However, he doesn’t miss the opportunity to say sweet things about the fans. “Tonight, you guys were also beautiful.” Following his lead, Changbin also complemented Stays in a different way. “I’m a little shocked by how cold it is here” he starts. “But because of your hot cheers, I forgot about the cold.”
Back during his trainee days Bang Chan tried with someone who’s from Chicago. He got told that it’s a great and beautiful place and “It really made me want to come even more.” Now that he’s finally made it to the city he’s heard so much about Bang Chan feels honored and admitted that fan video made him tear up.
Round two of Stays verses Stray Kids started at the end of Bang Chan’s speech. Stays started chanting about their love and the group responded the same way. The end results didn’t change as Stays never gave up to prove how much they care for the members.
To wrap up their last time talking for the night Stray Kids asked to take a photo with everyone attending. Many selfies later the guys are partly satisfied but they desired one more thing, a picture of just the crowd. Fans posed in various ways and the photographer took pictures and a few members attempted to photobomb causing everyone to laugh.
The final two songs for the concert “YAYAYA” and “MIROH” were the perfect way to end the party-like concert. Both the idols and the audience lost themselves in the music and lived in the moment.
Unlike the first performance of “MIROH,” Stray Kids let Stays take control and sing the opening verses while clapping in sync. Both Korean and English lyrics can be heard perfectly throughout Rosemont Theatre. The set choreography could be see everywhere in the crowd during each chorus.
As they give their final bow, the song continues in the background. Instead of leaving the stage right after, all eight of them go back to singing and encouraging everyone to sing along. A few minutes later they said the official goodbyes and reluctantly head backstage.
The cold weather felt like nothing as Stays head home. The dance party warmed up their bodies and hearts that didn’t seem to be leaving anytime soon.
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